Tue | May 21, 2019

MP blames Port Authority, NEPA for environmental concerns

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:17 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Victor Wright, the member of parliament for Northern Trelawny, is bemoaning what he has described as the destruction of the environment in his constituency in the name of development.

“Two agencies of the state are facilitating this destruction. I refer to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and the National Environment and Protection Agency (NEPA),” said Wright.

“The PAJ built the Falmouth pier and caused the water table to rise, resulting in sewage problems for the town. They promised to link the town’s sewerage [system] to theirs and are going about it in a selective way. Only certain businesses are selected to be linked, yet the sewage problem is for the whole town,” he said.

Wright continued: “They dredged the sea, resulting in the destruction of the shoreline bordering the Falmouth to Rock road. There was a promise to prevent the water from the sea from destroying the road. None of that has been done ... .”

DUE DILIGENCE

Although emphatically stating that he is not against development, Wright strongly recommended that proper due diligence be done before projects are undertaken.

“It must be done in a manner that does not destroy the environment. Most recently, there have been hotels being built and groundbreaking ceremonies for new ones. All of these are done in areas where mangroves have been destroyed, turtle nesting areas destroyed, so when the turtle-nesting season comes around in a few months, they will not find the area they laid their eggs last time,” said Wright.

He said that NEPA approved the developments but that no environmental plan has been made available to residents and other stakeholders to provide feedback.

At a recent ground breaking ceremony, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that 13,000 acres of land in the Long Pond section of the parish would be taken out of sugar production but did not state what the lands will be used for.

“Lands cannot just be taken and given to people or be allowed to do any development without concluding a lease to a company which operated the Long Pond Factory,” said Wright.

“Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings is responsible for the Long Pond lands. They are giving verbal permits to individuals to clear lands in Daniel Town without the requisite lease or permits from NEPA,” he said.

“This is not how I expect the constituency to be developed. The associated benefits from these developments to locals are not forthcoming as projected. State agencies seem destined to deprive the residents of their fair share of what they should get,” added Wright. “I am calling on the residents to be vigilant in protecting the spaces while embracing structured, planned developments.”